Evaluation of the Corneal Endothelium Following Cataract Surgery in Diabetic and Non-Diabetic Patients

By Adela Ciorba, Amir M. Abdelhamid, G. Roiu, S. Saber and Simona Cavalu

Figure 1. Representative images of endothelial cell layer (coloured dots) 1 week after surgery performed with specular microscopy for (a) diabetic patient and (b) non-diabetic patient. Copyright: Simona Cavalu et al.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of phacoemulsification cataract surgery on the state of the corneal endothelium in diabetic versus non-diabetic patients. We compared the corneal cell morphology in 48 diabetics with good glycemic control and 72 non-diabetic patients before and after uneventful phacoemulsification. Corneal cell density, central corneal thickness, and hexagonality were measured preoperatively and post-surgery (at 1 and 4 weeks) by specular microscopy. The effect of age, gender, axial length, and anterior chamber depth on the parameters of
the corneal endothelium were evaluated. Copyright Simona Cavalu et al.

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Combined socio-demographic and clinical characteristic of diabetic and non-diabetic groups. Legend: AXL—axial length; ACD—anterior chamber depth. Copyright Simona Cavalu et al.
Correlation matrix between measured variables before the surgery. Legend: AXL, axial length; ACD, anterior chamber depth; CCT_PRE, central corneal thickness preoperative; CD_PRE, cell density preoperative; HEX_PRE, hexagonality of endothelial cells preoperative;
* significance, p < 0.05. Copyright Simona Cavalu et al.
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Effect of surgery on central corneal thickness (a), cell density (b), and hexagonality of endothelial cells (c). Copyright Simona Cavalu et al.
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Effect of diabetes on surgical outcomes, including central corneal thickness, cell density, and hexagonality of endothelial cells postoperative at 1st week (a) and at 4th week (b). Copyright Simona Cavalu et al.


We noticed significant differences between pre-surgical and postoperative CD values in both diabetic and non-diabetic patients. Despite good glycemic control, diabetic patients had more pronounced morphological abnormalities compared to those of non-diabetics, but visual outcomes after phacoemulsification with IOL implantation were similar in both groups. A drop in the postoperative endothelial density was noted after the first week, in both groups. A significant increase in central corneal thickness was also noted in both groups one week after phacoemulsification, but there was no statistical significance after 4 weeks in the diabetic group. In terms of cell hexagonality, statistically significant differences were noted after 4 weeks in both groups.A major finding in our study is that, although an advanced loss of CD was noted, along with an increased CCT and a reduction of hexagonality (especially in the diabetic group), there were no cases of postoperative bullous keratopathy, probably due to several factors, such as surgeon’s experience and the use of viscoelastic substances with a protective role, as well as a careful preoperative evaluation and a good glycemic index (HbA1c < 7%).We strongly recommend routine specular microscopy and HbA1c evaluation before all cataract surgeries. Regarding intraoperative precautions, a high level of monitoring is necessary in terms of pacho power intensity and ultrasound energy, along with a proper application of the dispersive viscoelastic substances to reduce the risk of endothelial damage for a successful surgical procedure.

Copyright Simona Cavalu et al.

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